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THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971)
#70 on the AFI Top 100. 1971's Best Picture.
Director William Friedkin's "The French Connection" is an exciting, jam packed cop action fest. Friedkin won the best directing award.
Promotional Lines: "Doyle is bad news - but a good cop."
"A $32,000,000 chase turns into the American thriller of the year!"
Best Picture Oscar Winner / Best Picture Index
The French Connection is a film that tells the story of tough guy New York cop Popeye Doyle (Hackman) and his partner, Buddy Russo , (Roy Scheider), as they attempt to bust an international heroin smuggling ring in New York, led by the suave, slippery Frenchman, Alain Chavnier who is the largest supplier of Heroin to America. They start their hunt by tailing the suspects in hope of keeping the trail warm, and hopefully catch the gang in the act, as they try to connect with the Mobsters in New York. To complicate things, Doyle and Russo must dodge snipers and potshots aimed at them as they get closer and closer to their goal, as they slowly uncover the plans of the bad guys.
This action-packed screenplay, by Ernest Tidyman, based on Robin Moore's reality-based novel, is considered by many to be "the mother of all gritty cop chase movies," done in a documentary-style, that's "full of guts, energy, and full of fury," showing the work of street cops. Tidyman was honored with an Academy award Oscar for his fine screenplay.
William Friedkin's inspired direction earned him the Best Director Oscar, as this film is one of his most successful efforts, as he helps create a realistic depiction of detective work, that ranges from endless footwork, disappointments, to wild chases and some successes.
Gene Hackman is fascinating as a tough, take no
prisoners cop. Doyle's tough, rule breaking policeman blurs the
line between cop and criminal. The fact that this unorthodox,
brutal cop is somehow sympathetic is a testament to Hackman's
great skills as an actor. Hackman once described his unhandsome
face as a "mug with handles."
Fernando Rey shines as a slick, foreign drug smuggler, Alain Chavnier, who plays a cat and mouse game with his pursuers. His sleek, elegant manner offers great contrast to Hackman's rude and crude behavior.
My favorite scene involves the film's famous car chase. As a drug smuggler races by above on an elevated train, Hackman speeds along in a car on the street below. This is one of the all time great car chases, matching "Bullitt" for intensity.
Overall the grainy look of the photography and stark locations add a lot to the "realism" of this film.